It's not easy being green

The idea that an energy company would pay customers up to $4m to cut their electricity usage through virtualisation sounds too good, or too crazy, to be true
Written by Leader , Contributor

Press release 8/11/06:
Choccolard Inc, the maker of the Chump Bar, has announced a startling new concept in low-calorie confectionary — the Share-A-Sweet scheme. Anxious to do its bit for the nation's health, Choccolard Inc has decided to reward those customers who choose to share their Chump bars with their friends — thereby reducing the amount of calories they consume individually. To encourage uptake of the Share-A-Sweet scheme, Choccolard has generously decided to give those customers who agree to share a bar with a friend a 50 percent discount off the purchase price of every delicious Chump Bar.

"It might seem crazy that a confectionary company is encouraging people to eat less chocolate but we take our customers health very seriously," said Choccolard Inc marketing manager, William Bunter. "We also want to pre-empt any difficult legislation that governments may push through."[ENDS]

The idea that a company may want to limit the amount of its product a customer uses seems incongruous at best and market-suicide at worst. But the momentum around green issues and sustainability appears to be increasingly skewing traditional ideas of good business sense.

Trying to anticipate potentially punitive environmental legislation could be part of the thinking behind a new scheme introduced by energy company Pacific Gas and Electric. The Californian provider announced a scheme at this week's VMworld conference in Los Angeles, to pay up to 50 percent of the setup costs  up to $4m per customer  for those companies who opt to use virtualisation software to chop back their server count, and therefore their power intake.

PG&E claims the deal is for a limited time only  until virtualisation becomes more mainstream and that reducing demand means it doesn't have to purchase new capacity, which saves it money in the long-run. It is still not clear whether the energy company will see any kick-back from the virtualisation software providers, such as VMware.

While the details of this deal may not be transparent, it is clearly a step in the right direction. PG&E's scheme champions the concept that energy efficiency is a good idea at every level of the supply chain. It also works as a counterpoint to much of the economic doom-mongering characterised by the recent Stern Report with its tails of economic collapse and punitive green taxes. More industries should buy into the idea of sustainable computing, so governments and energy providers need to make the message clear: It might not be easy being green, but it doesn't have to be expensive.

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